Need music recommendations

I’m working on a documentary piece about the 1990s, and I’m looking for some contemporary music to use as a sound bed. I’m also looking for a separate piece from the 2000s.

Specifically, here’s what I’m looking for:

[li]It has to be from 1991 to 1999, or from 2000 to 2007.[/li][li]It has to be instrumental. Vocals won’t work for this project.[/li][li]Opal doesn’t have to like it.[/li][/ul]



You should have a look through this thread which I started some time ago on 90s music. It got an impressive amount of feedback and songs. I know you specified instrumental, but I’m sure there are at least a few songs in there that would qualify. Also, if you were so inclined, you could just sample the main instrumental hook from some of the songs with vocals, and fade it out before the vocals come or something.

Just wondering, why won’t vocals work?

William Orbit’s Strange Cargo Series (link to for SC III). Wonderful instrumental stuff.

Massive Attack - Protection - has vocals, but long stretches of instrumental work you could sample.

I have long thought of both of these as soundtracks…

To clarify, are you looking for music that specifically evokes the time period, music that was on the radio and triggers strong nostalgic memories? Or just any music, however obscure, from the period?

The music is going to be behind narration and other sound clips. If the song has vocals, things get a little muddy, especially since the quality of some of the sound clips isn’t the best to begin with.



Maybe give some of the rec’s a listen and come back with feedback? That way we can perhaps offer suggestions that are more “dialed in”?

Gotta run to a meeting…

El Farol, by Carlos Santana. You can give it a listen here:

The Pixies’ Bossanova has an opening instrumental track called “Cecelia Ann.” The Pixies are very evocative of that late 80s/early 90s sound and many artists of the 90s name them as a strong influence. Bossanova was released in 1990, though, but I don’t think anyone would consider it anachronistic.

The title track to the 1995 Smashing Pumpkins release Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is one of the more obvious instrumental for this time period. The album debuted at number one on Billboard.

“Roi (reprise)” off the Breeder’s Last Splash.

“A Warm Place” by Nine Inch Nails, off Downward Spiral, for a moody, textural and slightly dark interlude.

“Girl Boy Song” from Aphex Twin’s 1996 release Richard D. James Album is a classic bit of mid-90s electronica.

Yo La Tengo’s “I Heard You Looking” from 1993 release Painful.

Air’s “La Femme d’Argent” from Moon Safari (1998)

Sugar’s “Come Around” from Beaster (1993) is almost an instrumental (there’s some vocals, but they’re deeply buried).

And I second any Massive Attack album. I’d go with Mezzanie myself, but there’s plenty of instrumental stretches in any of their albums to fulfill the OP’s requirements.

Moving a little away from the indie/alternative stuff, we also have:

Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Little Wing” from The Sky is Crying (1991)
Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover” (might be 1990)
Joe Satriani’s “Summer Song” from The Extremist (1992)

Definitely some trip-hop, which was, along with grunge, one of the most signature styles from the 90’s. But don’t limit yourself to **Massive Attack ** (as seminal as they were): other key artists are **The Sneaker Pimps ** and Morcheeba (mostly the half-minute intros, and the first 100 seconds of “Big Calm”). You might find use for White Town’s “Theme for an Early Evening American Sitcom,” 2:14 of instrumental synth-plus-marimbas cheesiness (and not a bit trip-hoppy).

Selections from the lounge revival of the mid-late '90’s: **Combustible Edison **'s work is a good starting point. I don’t have any on hand to refer to, but I remember it as being probably at least half-instrumental.

Pavement. One of the most instantly identifiably “90’s” bands of all (Nirvana probably earns the #1 spot.) Not many instrumentals, but lots of short chunks of good intro guitar strumming, etc., if you’ve got a small gap to fill.

Brit pop. The best band in this category was Blur, and their best-known LP in this country was Parklife. Instrumental track #7 (“The Debt Collector”) is an easy-going retro charmer, with oompa-oompa trombone, calliope-like sounds (melodica?), and saxophones. As for the rest, you’ll have to do the sampling (and loop?) the intros and such from the pop songs: the first 24 seconds of “London Loves,” for a classic, bouncy electronica-inflected pop sound; the first 36 seconds of “Clover Over Dover,” for a sprightly, cheerful, shimmery pop background; the first 53 seconds of “Lot 105” for a mellotron-and-cheesy-drum-synth minimalist track (that does build, a bit) that’s both retro and impossibly cute. And most recognizably, the first 31 seconds of “Girls and Boys,” Blur’s big hit at the time.

Arty jangle-pop. Sure, this sub-genre will forever be associated with the 80’s, with seminal albums like Crazy Rhythms by The Feelies. But the 90’s also saw some good stuff in this vein, like The Glands’s “Two Dollar Wine,” revisited in an instrumental reprise, “Two Dollar Reprise” on their debut LP Double Thriller [1998] (which also lists the shimmery instrumental “Sunshine Happiness”). Their 2000 LP, eponymously titled The Glands, was a much stronger work overall, but is better categorized in the shoegazer style. (With its obvious nods to Pavement, Suede and My Bloody Valentine, it also sounds like a time capsule of 90’s alternative-shoegazer rock.) It includes the 43-second instrumental “Swim - Prelude,” but you might find use for the 38-second mellow, hazy [or simply stoned?] intro to “Mayflower,” the jauntier 30-second intro to “I Can See My House from Here,” or the tranquil first 35 seconds of “Fortress”.

Another neat-o sub-genre of the 90’s was the revival of surf rock. The alterna-and-surf-rock-oriented (and all-instrumental) **Shadowy Men On a Shadowy Planet ** is best known for their theme for *The Kids In the Hall * TV show, but all their work is more or less on that level, quality-wise. (Try the LP Sport Fishin’ [1993], which was recorded by Steve Albini and must rank as one of the lost musical gems of the 90’s.) The other key all-instrumental surf-rock 90’s band is Man Or Astro-Man?, whose shtick marries surf-rock with '50’s-style sci-fi and monster-movie references (and Tesla coils, etc. for their stage show). (If MOA-M didn’t get to do the theme for MST3K, they should have.) You can also glean some good instrumental surf-rock from the eclectic Southern Culture On the Skids, esp. their wonderful debut LP Dirt Track Date [1995] – track #4, “Skullbucket” (the other instrumentals on that album are the Tiki-party-friendly “Make Mayan a Hawaiian” and the surf-rock “Galley Slave,” which sports some inarticulated vox humana.

The Scrivener I bow before your musical knowledge. I wish I knew more musicians and bands, but it’s so easy just to listen to the stuff I already have. I vow to go buy a new CD this week.

Re: the OP, The Cure is infamous for having looong intros to their songs before the vocals come in. It’s like the vocals are tacked on to the end of the song as an afterthought. Many songs from Disintegration are like this. I don’t know if you need entire songs or not.

I just thought of a couple others:

There’s “Live at P.J.'s” from the Beastie Boys Check Your Head (1992).

Anything off DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…. This is definitely in keeping with the 90s trip-hop vibe. I would say with Massive Attack and Portishead, one of the defining sounds of trip-hop, although DJ Shadow took it in a different direction–much more instrumental and aggressively sample based.

And how could I forget Daft Punk? Try “Da Funk” from the 1996 release Homework for one of the most recognizable mid-90s instrumental dance tracks.

Slightly more obscure, but no less influential, would be anything from Mouse on Mars. Try their aptly titled album “Instrumentals.”

Stadium Arcadium- Red Hot Chili Peppers, off of the album with the same name.

Instrumentals from the Nineties. Not much to go on, and since I don’t know the mood you’re going for, my suggestions might be all wrong. Still…

You could try Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.”

I wish I had a film to use “Winter’s Love” by Animal Collective in. There are eventually vocals, but the first half or so of the song is beautiful and wordless.